All Blacks withstand France fightback to win in Paris
New Zealand lit up Stade de France with a scintillating first-half display as depleted France were beaten 38-18 despite a stirring fightback on Saturday.
The world champions threatened to inflict a crushing defeat on Guy Noves' men in Paris, where they led 31-5 at the break following tries from Dane Coles, Waisake Naholo, Ryan Crotty and Sam Cane in an irresistible first-half display.
Les Bleus were transformed after the interval and were rewarded with a penalty try when Sonny Bill Williams inexplicably deliberately slapped the ball over the dead-ball line after Teddy Thomas marked his return with a first-half score.
France dominated much of the second half, but gave themselves too much to do as they suffered an 11th consecutive defeat to an All Blacks side that had the final say with a second score from Naholo.
Fly-half Anthony Belleau, one of three France players making his debut from the start, was on target with two penalties and caught the eye along with scrum-half Antoine Dupont against a New Zealand side that included big guns who were rested for the win over the Barbarians.
Beauden Barrett scored 13 points from the tee in a flawless display of kicking on a night which saw New Zealand became the first international team to score 2,000 Test tries in difficult conditions due to rain in the French capital.
France attempted to make a statement by advancing towards the All Blacks during the haka, but might have been regretting that when Coles took a quick pass from Barrett and raced through a gap to score the opening try 10 minutes in.
Barrett slotted over a penalty before whipping out a superb long pass out to leave Naholo with a simple finish on the right after Aaron Smith got quick ball at the base of a scrum in a relentless start from New Zealand, who lost Coles to injury following his early score.
The mercurial Barrett expertly landed a second conversion as Les Bleus were left wondering what had hit them, but a partisan crowd were on their feet when Thomas dived over in the corner in his first Test since February 2016 to round off a fluent passing move on the right.
New Zealand were just too hot to handle in attack, though, and scored twice in quick succession late in the first half with Rabah Slimani in the bin for collapsing a scrum.
Williams' clever grubber kick enabled fellow-centre Crotty to dot down and Rieko Ioane burst away down the left before slipping the ball inside for Damian McKenzie, who showed quick hands to feed the onrushing Cane for try number four.
Barrett's fourth successful conversion put the All Blacks in complete control at the interval, but Belleau opened his account from the tee and France were awarded a penalty try when Williams was deemed to have denied Yoann Huget a five-pointer by patting the ball out of play in the in-goal area.
Williams was shown a yellow card and fired-up France were all over Steve Hansen's men, Thomas having what he thought was his second score ruled out when his foot was in touch after another Belleau penalty cut the gap to 31-18.
New Zealand weathered the storm and Naholo was left with a simple finish to round off a well worked move right at the end after Anton Lienert-Brown set him up, Barrett making it five out of five with the boot.